Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Featured Author: Barbara Jean Coast

Tour Page Here:

About the book: 

It’s the 1950’s in Santa Lucia, California, and the height of the social season.  Time for the new Miss Santa Lucia, Nora Burbank, to display her loveliness at a high society fashion show produced by the city’s own fashionistas--Margot and Daphne, owners of Poppy Cove, the most elegant and “in” little dress shop in the county.
Nora steals the show in her designer gown and custom-made necklace created by local jeweler Isaac Mendelson, and used on the sly by his apprentice son-in-law, Efrem Goldberg. At the conclusion of the show, the young queen is allowed to keep her dress and a replica of the necklace for her own. But Monday morning, Efrem arrives in a panic at Poppy Cove to beg Margot and Daphne’s assistance in tracking down the real necklace, which he believes was inadvertently switched for the replica backstage. The girls get involved in Efrem’s dilemma and try to help him before Isaac’s any the wiser. But before that can happen, Miss Santa Lucia is found dead in her bed and the necklace is missing.
Who killed Nora Burbank? Is it someone jealous of her new royal position and all of its perks?  Or did she just happen to be in the way when a thief attempted to steal her diamond-studded necklace? Did Nora have the real or the fake necklace, and how much did the thief and murderer know about it? But, of course, before the girls can find the killer, they’ll have to create several beautiful ensembles, calm numerous irate clients, and flirt with their ever-so-attentive boyfriends, before solving this mystery. 


Interview with Barbara Jean Coast:

First of all, I have to acknowledge that Barbara Jean Coast is the pseudonym for not one but two writers: Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, both of whom are with me today.

Barbara--or Andrea and Heather--what’s the story behind the title of your book?

We took the title Death of a Beauty Queen as it appeared in the Santa Lucia Times (our fictional town’s newspaper), announcing Nora Burbank’s murder. It seemed to have a good punch when we came up with it, so it stuck.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
Poppy Cove Mysteries are cozy novels set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolves around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure. Well, we all know I love murder and mayhem! Death of a Beauty Queen is the follow-up to Strangled by Silk in the series.

Each book does tell a complete story, but it probably is best to read them in order as the characters will evolve and change over time.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Tell your stories and connect with others. When opportunities comes, say yes! Be grateful and follow the signs along the way, because they’re always there if you are willing to see them.

What do you love about where you live?

We live in Kelowna, BC, Canada. It’s about four hours inland from Vancouver in the Okanagan Valley. It’s naturally beautiful and abundant with four distinct seasons, and many creative and supportive people.

What makes you happy?
Andrea: Connecting with our readers, hearing from them that they can relate to our stories. I also really love my life – it’s full of great people and plenty of laughter and love.

Heather: Playing with our alter ego, Barbara Jean Coast is such fun! When we may get nervous and neurotic at times, we think, “What would Barbara Jean do?” and remember her fearless and fun attitude, and it pulls us through our worries to new results.

How did you create the plot for this book?
We were watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes specifically the scene where Marilyn Monroe was wearing that beautiful fuchsia strapless dress and signing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” We started discussing whether or not the necklace in the movie was real or fake and then moved on to talking about costume jewelry – the quality of paste pieces - and it evolved from there, involving both Miss Santa Lucia and the Poppy Cove Fashion Show.

Are either one of you like any of your characters?
Andrea: Maybe I’m a bit like Loretta: her snoopy nosiness and a curiosity for news. Also a bit like Daphne, sporty and seeking fun.

Heather: I’d say I’ve got a bit of Margot in my make-up. I can be quite reserved and live in my head, contemplating, mulling over before outwardly producing results.

Who are your favorite authors?
Andrea:  There are so many! Currently Tracy Chevalier, Louise Erdich, Alexander McCall Smith, Barbara Gowdy, Donna Andrews, Leslie Meiers, Jeri Westerson.

Heather: It so hard to narrow down. Let’s see – Whitney Otto, Susan Gregg Gilmore, Fanny Flagg, Alice Hoffman, Carola Dunn, Rhys Bowen, Susan Wittig Albert.

We both could go on and on . . .

I hear you. That really was an unfair question to ask! What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Andrea: Kindle: Deathbed And Breakfast By Bart J. Gilbertson

Paperback: Oscar And Lucinda By Peter Carey

Hardcover: Blood Lance By Jeri Westerson

Heather: Kindle: Bingoed By Patricia Rockwell

Paperback: Gunpowder Plot By Carola Dunn

Hardcover: Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots By Jessica Soffer

Do you have a routine for writing?
Yes, and actually we’re in the middle of re-organizing our time, devoting more hours to our craft. We start in the morning by going through our correspondence, then writing throughout the day. Every few days we change the focus to marketing to keep up. That’s been the most interesting challenge. When we first started out, we were just writing, but now that we have a couple of books out, we need to fit in promoting as well. It’s great fun, but quite the juggling act.

I totally agree. Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
We have a writing room set up and generally work there. Every now and then when we’re plotting, we’ll go out to a library or cafĂ© and take up a table as we scheme away for hours. Generally, we don’t work much in the evenings – we need to refuel those creative tanks with entertainment or at least entertaining friends and/or family!

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Our local library system! The Okanagan Regional Library runs beyond the length of the valley and has over 25 branches, an extensive catalogue and a decent budget. As writers, they have been very encouraging to us, welcoming us to do readings and events, as well as carrying our books. As patrons, we love to do library crawls and gather books from various branches like magpies.  We get such a kick when we see so many of our fellow author friends’ books on the shelves.

What would your dream office look like?
We’re planning that right now. It would be so good to have a room dedicated to writing where we can leave everything out. Ideally, we’d like to have space for about three different tasks: writing; Andrea likes to do collage; and Heather to have sewing space.  We’ve got a whiteboard for plots and ideas, but we’re thinking one big full wall size would be neat that we could just scrawl all the points and ideas on in free form. We also need some more book cases and storage units to keep track of our research materials on 50’s/60’s vintage design.

Are you happy with your decision to publish with Cozy Cat Press?
We’re very happy with Cozy Cat Press – our little group sees it as the little engine that can! Patricia Rockwell, owner and founder, is always there, guiding us all when we need it and every single author does something in their own way to help promote the label. We’re a close group, and we feel honored to be in such a supportive and talented bunch.

What are you working on now?
We’re working on the third novel in the Poppy Cove mystery series. It digs up the past of one of our major characters and makes the others question about how they feel about it and themselves. We’re really enjoying it. We also have plans for at least two other series and are currently laying the groundwork to start a new series, set locally in modern time, as well as carrying on Poppy Cove.

About the authors:

Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, both of whom reside in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Barbara Jean, however, is a resident of Santa Lucia, California (eerily similar to Santa Barbara), where she enjoys long lunches, cocktail parties, fancy dinner dates with attractive and attentive gentlemen. Her interests include Alfred Hitchcock movies, reading Carolyn Keene, music by popular musicians, such Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, shopping for new dresses, attending society events, and always looking fabulous in kitten heels. Death of a Beauty Queen is her second novel in the Poppy Cove mystery series. 

Connect with the authors:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook: Barbara Jean Coast  |  Facebook: Poppy Cove Mysteries  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes  |  Smashwords